Understanding Islam in Asia, a Pathway to Multicultural Canada

By Hye-jin Juhn, East Asian Studies and Political Science Liaison Librarian

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada. It is a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions that Asian Canadians have made to Canada. It is also a time to learn about the rich and diverse history and culture of Asia.

During this year’s Asian Heritage Month, the McGill Library showcases scholarly and educational resources about Islam in Asia through a virtual exhibit of books and documentary films. The cover images of a selection of books are also on display in the Redpath Library building from May 1st to May 30th.

Cover images of a selection of Asian History Month books are also on display in the Redpath Library building from May 1st to May 30th.

Islam is solidly woven into the social and cultural fabric of Canadian society. It is the second-largest religion in Canada after Christianity, with nearly 1.8 million Muslims representing 4.9% of the entire population of 38 million (2021 Canada Census of Population).

The Muslim population is expected to grow exponentially. More and more Muslims are choosing to immigrate to Canada for educational and business opportunities. There is also a relatively small, but growing population of migrants in vulnerable situations, who arrive from areas such as Afghanistan and the Xinjiang region through Canada’s Refugees and Asylum

Canada is where cultures meet and acculturate to one another. While many Canadians accept, appreciate, and enjoy the richness and the diversity that Islamization brings to their society and culture, there has been a worrisome growth in Islamophobia based on misinformation, and political biases.

Islamophobia is a form of anti-Asian racism. Nearly 39% of the Muslims in Canada are presumed to be of Asian origins (2001 Canada Census of Population). But both Muslim and non-Muslim Asians have been attacked by Islamophobic individuals and groups due to racial prejudices.

Some of the ways we can fight anti-Asian racism are by “learning about pan-Asian diversity and the unique identities and cultures that have enriched Canadian society” and by “challenging stereotypes.” (Addressing anti-Asian racism)

Through the McGill Library’s Redpath book display and the online exhibition, we hope to provide an opportunity for the McGill Community to learn about various topics of history and culture of Islam in Asia. We hope to motivate the McGillians to delve into some of these topics, and to share their knowledge through further education and research.

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